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Chrissy Kolaya

There They Stood Exactly As They Were Created




By phone

she woke him at three

to tell him she had thought of something funny—

naming a dog Kevin

or Mike.


He thought of her the next morning,

tossing his briefcase into the backseat,

thought of her always at this time

as the sun came up

and the neighborhood lay quiet,

in the same way

Rachmaninoff thought of death

always on Sundays.


He had become a commuter,

a regular nine-to-fiver

with a desk

and a boss who took him out to lunch

to discuss prospects.

Most nights, he made it home by six or six thirty.

The sun went down slowly in the evening.

The apartment faced west.

It was early summer still.




The best feeling in the world—anticipation.

He waited for her to lean forward,

to tell him they were—

to tell him he should—


But none of this happens. 

A leaf blew down the sidewalk.

He thought of his first year in Chicago,

of a friend he’d made quickly, then lost

once they’d both gotten their bearings.

It’s possible she might end up like that, he thought. 



there was a landscaped and deliberate body of water

around which he would stroll with his wife.

Today, though,

Lake Michigan threw itself against the revetment stones.


By July she knew he’d really leave.

Would really live out the life he’d planned ahead of time

in which the girl says yes to what’s held out to her.

By July she realized

he wasn’t the type to throw all of that over

because of something that happened to crackle between them.


She had a memory of him carrying her home from a party on his back,

how she had rested her chin on top of his head,

the smell of him and Chicago at night in the summer

rising up around her.




They reclined away from the table,

having drained three pitchers between the two of them.

The sun hung with uncertainty in the sky—

just before nightfall,

just before rainfall.

The ground began to smell like something new,

but this was a sort of ending for them

and when the rain began to fall softly

they leaned back

letting it fall lightly on their faces.

He had planned to leave in the way many people do—

responsibly, carefully packing,

reserving things along the way,

certain of the destination

and certain of the way to travel there.


When she left, months later,

it was a hasty decision,

a ticket bought last minute

and all the packing done

with an eye toward escape.

She took all the wrong things,

left all the right things behind.

In the end, she traveled farther than he did.

She would never be married at twenty-two,

looking for a house

nice for a young married couple.

She left for Rome

without understanding Italians.

She had an idea in her head

of the Villa Borghese at dusk,

cool wine in August.

In the end

this was what lay between them.

In the end it was more

than the salty smell of the ocean.

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